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Foundation Topics

Legacy CCTV Video-Surveillance Architecture Evolution

In a famous scene in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones triggers a chain reaction of booby traps that threaten his and his companions’ lives. Although this is obvious Hollywood lore, the idea of booby traps being used to protect valuables is no new concept. They can be considered as a primitive form of surveillance that has evolved into something quite elaborate.

Video surveillance is not a new concept either. The earliest report about video cameras being used for monitoring was in 1965. These early monitoring solutions used closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring systems. The idea of CCTV is that a camera, drawing power from a wall outlet, also has a coaxial cable that connected it to a TV monitor. This allows for the image being captured by the camera to be displayed on the TV. If control of the camera is desired, like pan tilt zoom (PTZ), a third cable is used, called a serial cable.

Video surveillance really hit its stride when recording using tape cassettes was introduced. Magnetic tape recording devices were used as early as the 1950s, but such devices were very expensive. Judicial systems like police departments and courtrooms used this early form of monitoring, as did banks, gas stations, and other public high-risk facilities. By the 1970s, two predominant tape cassette formats took the lead in the market: Video Home System (VHS) and Betamax. Ultimately, VHS excelled in the consumer market, and Betamax went away. In retrospect, there are issues with using tape recording devices like VHS cassettes. First, the quality was so limiting that it was often hard to make out facial recognition when someone was caught on tape. Second, the recording time on a VHS cassette was limited to about 2 to 4 hours. This can be extended up to double the time length using Long Play (LP), or triple the time length using Extended Play (EP), also know as Super Long Play (SLP). By using LP or EP/SLP, the already poor quality is reduced.

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Another great advancement in video surveillance was the introduction of multiplexers. Multiplexers allow for recording several cameras at a single time. In many cases, more than a dozen cameras were used at a single time. Some of the technologies around multiplexing would allow snapshot recording and motion detection recording of cameras, where they would only start recording when motion was detected. Though multiplexers brought many advantages to video monitoring, there were still many disadvantages that would need to be overcome. With a single camera, the monitor view of the camera encompassed the whole screen. With multiplexers, each camera view frame was compressed so that all camera feeds could be viewed simultaneously on the monitor. This affected the video quality even more because these smaller images could not be selected to enlarge for more detail. Figure 3-1 illustrates how a multiplexer can be used in video surveillance.

Figure 3-1

Figure 3-1 Usage of a Multiplexer in a Video-Surveillance Solution

It is said that invention comes from 10 percent sweat and 90 percent necessity. All the advancements leading up to this point in the evolution of video surveillance were great, revolutionary achievements for analog video monitoring. The next phase in this evolutionary process brought analog video into the digital world. One of the necessary advancements addressed the limit of tape recording devices, as well as the quality of the recorded video feed. Digital video recorders (DVRs) were introduced into video surveillance circa late 1990s. In addition to a significant increase in recorded video quality and duration of recording, there were many other advantages of using DVRs. One such advantage allowed for viewers to go back and view prerecorded video without disrupting the recording process. Another advantage is that you can select a smaller frame and enlarge it to a full-screen view. Figure 3-2 illustrates how you can use a DVR in a video-surveillance solution.

Figure 3-2

Figure 3-2 DVR Usages in a Video-Surveillance Solution

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, broadband and high-speed Internet were introduced. With technology taking off, and the Internet driving the information age, several more great advancements were made in the video-surveillance world. IP access to DVRs allowed viewers to access multiple locations from a central remote location. However, because analog camera had to have a physical connection to the DVR (whether directly connected or through a multiplexer), there was still a physical security issue because the DVR had to be on premises with the cameras. Encoders were introduced to video surveillance, allowing the analog signal to be converted to digital format before it was sent to the DVR. Encoders could send the digital format of the signal over an IP network to the DVR; therefore, DVRs no longer had to be stored on premises.

The introduction of IP cameras brought much advancement in the technology of video surveillance. The IP camera converted the analog video being recorded to digital format natively on the camera. This eliminated the need for encoders and traditional analog cameras. In addition, IP cameras could support Power over Ethernet (PoE), and the PTZ control of a camera could be sent over Ethernet as well. This allowed for a single cable to be run to each camera instead of the three (power, coaxial, and control) cables needed for a traditional analog camera. A modern video-surveillance solution allows for a combination of IP cameras and analog cameras with encoders to be used. Companies can still leverage their older analog cameras longer without doing an expensive tear-and-replace when upgrading their surveillance solution. As needed, those analog cameras can be upgraded to IP cameras.

Cisco Physical Security Solution

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Although Cisco had already been involved in the video-surveillance market, they made a key acquisition in May 2007 of BroadWare Technologies. This acquisition brought many new and highly developed tools to Cisco’s solution. With these new products available, Cisco developed a strategy based on a differentiated physical security product suit that builds on Cisco’s Medianet integration. The two main components of Cisco’s video-surveillance solution are hardware and software products. Hardware products include Cisco Video IP Surveillance Cameras, encoders, and physical security management and storage servers. Software products are used for monitoring video surveillance and controlling different aspects of the monitoring tools. You will learn more about these products later in this chapter. Other solution elements include the Cisco Physical Access Manager and the Cisco IP Interoperability and Collaboration System (Cisco IPICS).

The Cisco Physical Access Manager appliance is a physical intrusion-detection solution using Cisco Physical Access Gateway devices to connect conventional wired sensors, along with other physical security elements through a converged IP network. The Cisco Physical Access Manager appliance is a hardware and software solution that provides advanced configuration and management of the Cisco Physical Access Control system. The Cisco Physical Access Manager desktop client is used to define access control rules, enroll users, manage badges, and configure the Cisco Physical Access Gateway modules, among other tasks.

The Cisco IPICS is a complete IP-based dispatch and incidence-response solution with several capabilities. This solution provides an enhanced dispatch console; UHF and VHF radio interoperability; emergency first-responder notification; and integration with IP phones, cell phones, PCs, and mobile devices.

A Cisco end-to-end solution can be broken down into three categories:

  • Threat detection can be categorized by the physical security elements in a surveillance solution, such as cameras, motion sensors, and access control.
  • Threat monitoring is based on real-time and recorded threat-monitoring services. Such services may include door sensors and badges, fingerprint scanners or other biometric sensors, video-surveillance monitoring software, and other media management and storage components.
  • The third category of the Cisco end-to-end solution is threat response. This service includes the IPICS allowing integration with existing communication devices, whether that be a Voice over IP (VoIP), public switched telephone network (PSTN), or video collaboration solution.

Components of a Cisco Digital Media Suite (DMS) could be incorporated, as well, such as PCs, Digital Media Player (DMPs), Cisco LCD Displays, and the Cisco Digital Media Manager (DMM). All three of these services work together to offer a complete and highly effective Cisco video-surveillance solution.

Cisco Video-Surveillance Components

The remainder of this chapter covers Cisco cameras and analytics, Cisco video-surveillance management software, and the Cisco media management and storage components. The Cisco video-surveillance solution can be divided into four service domains:

  • Input and output devices
  • Management
  • Storage
  • Interactive view

Input and output devices are Cisco IP cameras, analog cameras, encoders, microphones, motion sensors, and PTZ control. This chapter does not go into microphones and motion sensors in a Cisco video-surveillance solution. Management elements include features like central management of previously mentioned devices, operations like PTZ and camera switching, media control, distribution, and layout changes. Management can also determine where recorded media is to be stored. Storage involves compressing media when needed and using scalable storage solutions, whether that be locally attached storage or a network-attached storage (NAS) or storage-area network (SAN). Interactive view elements monitor endpoints such as operator view stations. It also contains distribution elements notifications and media store distribution.

Input and Output Devices

The Cisco IP cameras include standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) capabilities. They communicate using IP and standards-based interfaces and protocols such as MPEG and H.264. Cisco IP surveillance cameras also include embedded security and networking, motion detection, and video analytics. As mentioned before, Cisco Medianet offers the features PoE, automated provisioning, bandwidth optimization, storage optimization, and enhanced network security. There are four series of cameras to choose from in the Cisco solution. Each has different capabilities to cater to the various needs of the customers. Some come in a box model, and some come in the dome model. The 6000 series comes in both box and dome models. Figure 3-3 shows box and dome cameras.

Figure 3-3

Figure 3-3 Box and Dome Cameras

The Cisco Video Surveillance 7000 series IP cameras support a 5-megapixel lens. It is an outdoor fixed HD camera in vandal-resistant housing. This series offers excellent image quality with resolutions up to 2560x1920 and PTZ support. The Cisco Video Surveillance 6000 series IP cameras support a 2.1-megapixel lens and offers HD video capability in bullet, box, and dome models. These cameras can be used indoors or outdoor and support up to 1080p30 resolutions. The Cisco Video Surveillance 4500E series IP cameras offer true HD video at 1080p, with H.264 compression. These dome IP digital cameras are designed for superior performance in a wide variety of video-surveillance applications. The Cisco Video Surveillance 3000 series IP cameras are full-functioning HD cameras with H.264 support. These dome cameras can support resolutions up to 1280x800 at 30 frames per second. The Cisco Video Surveillance PTZ series IP cameras are available in SD or HD resolutions. Cisco PTZ IP cameras can be remotely controlled to monitor a wider area than traditional fixed cameras. Table 3-2 compares each of the camera series mentioned.

Table 3-2 Cisco Video-Surveillance Camera Features

Camera Model

Camera Type

Resolution

Cisco Video Surveillance 7000 series

5-megapixel HD IP dome cameras

Resolutions up to 2650x1920

Cisco Video Surveillance 6000 series

2.1-megapixel HD IP dome, bullet, and box cameras

1080p30

Cisco Video Surveillance 4500E series

True 1080p HD multipurpose camera

1080p30 or 720p60

Cisco Video Surveillance 3000 series

HD cameras IP dome cameras

1280x800 at 30 fps

Cisco Video Surveillance PTZ series

SD and HD IP 360 dome cameras

Up to 1080p

Another output device is the Cisco Video Surveillance Encoder. These devices use digital signal processors (DSPs) to convert analog signal from legacy analog cameras to digital format. Encoders are an optional component of the Cisco Physical Security Multiservices Platform, and the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server Software must be installed on the server to use them. There are two cards available offering either 16 BNC connection panel or an 8 BNC connection panel on a single card. The resolution of these capture cards is D1, with motion JPEG (M-JPEG) and H.264 support. D1 resolution is 704x480, and is the highest SD resolution available in common analog-based CCTV deployments. Additional support on these encoder cards includes RS-232 for remote PTZ control of cameras.

Note that although only Cisco IP surveillance cameras are mentioned in this chapter, third-party systems are supported by the Cisco DMS solution. This includes third-party IP surveillance cameras and legacy analog cameras through encoders. Also, Cisco IP surveillance cameras are supported by third-party management software, as well.

Management

The Cisco Video Surveillance Manager Software (VSMS) is the management and control plane for the Cisco video-surveillance solution components. Cisco VSMS is a software suite that includes the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager, Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server, and Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix. These software components of the VSM are the three management software solutions that are discussed in this section.

The Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server software is the core component of the network-centric Cisco video-surveillance solution. This software is responsible for the recording, storing, and streaming of video feeds. The Cisco Video Surveillance Storage System complements the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server software. Video can be stored in direct-attached storage (DAS), NAS, and SAN storage systems. The way it works is that each IP camera or encoder sends a single video stream to the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server. This software is responsible for simultaneously distributing live and archived video streams to viewers over an IP network. In case of multiple view requests, the software replicates the unique input video streams to multiple output streams, based on request. For archive viewing, the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server continuously receives video from the IP camera or encoder, as configured per the archive settings. The software sends video streams to the viewer only when requested. In environments with remote branch locations, this process becomes efficient because traffic needs to traverse the network only when requested by remote viewers. Video requests and streams are delivered to the viewer by using HTTP traffic (TCP port 80) or over HTTPS (TCP port 443).

The Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager is the core engine for the Cisco surveillance solution. It offers centralized administration of all the Cisco video-surveillance solution components and supports Cisco video-surveillance endpoints. For security purposes, it uses authentication and access management for video feeds. Application programming interfaces (APIs) can be used for third-party integration, and third-party camera and encoder support is provided. Tools available in the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager include a web-based portal that can be used to configure, manage, display, and control video from any Cisco surveillance camera or encoder. Many third-party endpoints are supported as well. Tools are available to manage multiple Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server instances and Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix instances and users. There are also tools that control different recording options such as motion-based, schedule-based, and event-based recording. For low-bandwidth link connections, the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager can perform rapid investigations using an integrated forensic search tool.

The Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix is a remotely controlled video-display application used to monitor video feeds in a command center or any monitoring environment. It enables users to control video being displayed on multiple local or remote monitors. It supports many layouts, and so operators can choose a predefined layout of cameras and push it out to the displays of all users or choose to send different users various layouts with different camera feeds. The Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix can also be integrated with other monitoring system components to automatically display video in response to user-defined event triggers. Such triggers could be from fire-monitoring systems, door sensors, and motion detectors, to name a few. Table 3-3 illustrates the three video-surveillance software components and the functions they perform.

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Table 3-3 Video-Surveillance Software Functions

Video-Surveillance Software

Video-Surveillance Software Functions

Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server

Responsible for the recording, storing, and streaming of video feeds

Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager

Offers centralized administration of all the Cisco video-surveillance solution components and supports Cisco video-surveillance endpoints

Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix

Supports many layouts, and so operators can choose a predefined layout of cameras and push it out to the displays of all users or choose to send different users various layouts with different camera feeds

Storage

Many storage components can be used. Those that have already been mention include DAS, NAS, and SAN storage. The Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform has also been mentioned, and is discussed further in this section. In addition, the Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR)-based Cisco video-surveillance elements warrant discussion.

The Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform is an easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy server suite. It offers scalable storage in a 1-RU up to a 4-RU server platform, storing up to 24 TB. As mentioned before, it supports video encoding with the optional encoder cards. There are four products in the Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform available. The virtualized applications for Unified Computing System (UCS) offer the same high security as other offering, along with other benefits of operating in a virtualized environment. The physical footprint of an organization is reduced, and the installation process is simplified, by eliminating the need for extra cabling, complexity, and power consumption. The Cisco Connected Safety and Security (CSS) UCS Platform series come in two models: the Cisco CSS UCS C220 (1-RU) and the Cisco CSS UCS C240 (2-RU). The CSS UCS Platform series comes with a variety of choices for physical security applications. Among those are video surveillance, physical access control (1-RU only), and incident response. The next generations of Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform offerings are the Cisco Physical Security Storage System 4-RU (CPS-SS: 4-RU) and the Cisco Physical Security Storage System 4-RU-EX (CPS-SS: 4-RU-EX). This series is ideal for performing backup to disk and bulk data storage.

Cisco video-surveillance cards are also available for the Cisco Integrated Services Router Generation 2 (ISR-G2). These module cards make management of analog cameras in remote offices more efficient, while supporting an IP video-surveillance network. When the ISR-G2 routers are used with the Cisco video-surveillance cards, 1 TB of DAS storage is made available.

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The Cisco Analog Video Gateway Module provides support for analog cameras, PTZ, alarm input, and control relay output. This module can support up to 16 analog cameras in a single card. The Cisco Analog Video Gateway Module is controlled by Cisco Video Surveillance Stream Manager. Cisco Analog Video Gateway Module encoders and decoders use the MPEG4 video compression codec, allowing for streams to be sent over the network using D1 resolutions up to 30 fps. The encoder that connects to the analog camera simultaneously records two MPEG4 streams at different resolutions. This enables viewers to observe high-quality streams, while a lower-quality recording will use less storage space.

The Cisco Video Management and Storage System Module implements the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server and the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager for the branch office. The Cisco Video Management and Storage System Module supports IP video cameras connected to the ISR through the IP network, in addition to any analog cameras connected through the Cisco Analog Video Gateway Module and most third-party cameras. Notifications can be sent from the router using e-mail messages, pages, and SMS.

Table 3-4 illustrates the two storage options discussed in this section, with their storage capacities and the type of storage available natively to the systems.

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Table 3-4 Cisco Storage Options

Cisco Storage Device

Storage Capacity

Type of Storage available

Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform

Up to 24 TB

DAS

Cisco Integrated Services Router Generation 2

Up to 1 TB

DAS

Interactive View

The Cisco video-surveillance solution is based on service domains. The domains that have already been discussed include the VSM software suite and video-surveillance storage systems. The Cisco video-surveillance solution can integrate with other Cisco connected physical security elements such as media and threat distribution, the Cisco DMS, and Cisco’s Collaboration endpoints. Other architectural domains include video input and edge analytics, sensors, PTZ camera control, and interactive output. This section takes all the elements that have been discussed and explains the flow of media, the communication signaling paths, and interactive views that can be used in a Cisco video-surveillance solution. The two scenarios that are discussed are the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager Viewer and the Cisco Video Surveillance Matrix Viewer.

When an operator is interacting with the Cisco video-surveillance software, the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager software is being used through Microsoft ActiveX web browser. This traffic can use TCP port 80 (HTTP) or 443 (HTTPS). The following steps outline the process Cisco’s video-surveillance software follows to change camera views:

  1. Using this software, the operator can select which cameras need to be viewed on which displays and in what camera positions.
  2. The Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager then sends a signal to the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server requesting the video feed from the selected cameras.
  3. The Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server requests video feed form the appropriate cameras.
  4. The camera sends the video feed to the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server.
  5. The Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server using TCP, UDP, or multicast sends these views to the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager.
  6. The Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager updates the view on the appropriate view portal stations based on the parameters selected by the operations manager. The protocol used is based on what was requested by the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager.

If another Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager Viewer requests the video from the same IP camera, the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server simply replicates the video stream as requested. No additional requests are made to the camera. Figure 3-4 illustrates the Operations Manager Viewer scenario.

Figure 3-4

Figure 3-4 Operations Manager Viewer Flow Scenario

The process for switching layout views using a Cisco video-surveillance solution is similar to the previous scenario. Again, when an operator is interacting with the Cisco video-surveillance software, the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager is being used. The following steps outline the process Cisco’s video-surveillance software takes to change layouts and update camera views:

  1. Using this software, the operator can select which layout is desired and which cameras need to be viewed within the different panes on that particular layout. That communication is sent to the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager through the web portal.
  2. The Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager then sends a signal to the Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix requesting a particular layout.
  3. The Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix determines what layout and what cameras are to be used. Then the Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix sends a signal to the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server to request video feed form the appropriate cameras.
  4. The Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server requests video feed form the appropriate cameras.
  5. The camera sends the video feed to the Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server.
  6. The Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server sends these views to the Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix.
  7. The Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix sends the communication to the operations view portal monitors directly.

The Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix sends a keepalive message to the operations view portal monitors periodically to confirm that the displays are still active. Figure 3-5 illustrates the Cisco Video Matrix Viewer scenario.

Figure 3-5

Figure 3-5 Cisco Video Matrix Viewer Flow Scenario

Summary

Because of greater needs, the desire for better quality, and key advancements in technology, video surveillance has evolved from its rudimentary form over several decades. From these advancements, Cisco offers a robust and secure video-surveillance solution for customers based on modern-day needs. The Cisco video-surveillance solution offers a wide assortment of IP video cameras and encoders that enable you to leverage analog camera that may already be in use. You can manage these components securely and effectively by using Cisco’s VSM software suite, which includes the Cisco Video Surveillance Operations Manager, Cisco Video Surveillance Media Server, and Cisco Video Surveillance Virtual Matrix. This software platform offers integration with other components within an organization like emergency response and other secure devices incorporated into the business environment. All of this is supported on a Cisco Video Surveillance Multiservices Platform. This server basis has scalable built-in storage and can integrate with NAS and SAN storage as well. The Cisco ISR allows for remote management of remote office facilities, completing the Cisco video-surveillance solution. Memory table are provided for review of key information discussed during this chapter. Review these memory tables to ensure a solid understanding of these topics.

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